Herbert Shanon Jackson Sweat Jr. recorded his oral history on November 13th 2012 at the Mid-Manhattan branch. Mr. Sweat served as an army Private in the 173rd Airborne division in Vietnam from April 1966 to October 1970. During his service, he was involved in one of the largest military operations of the war, the Tet Offensive, in January and February 1968. He currently serves as Chairperson for Black Veterans for Social Justice, Inc. This Brooklyn-based organization advocates to federal, state, and city agencies for the immediate needs of veterans and helps develop long range solutions. In this interview, Mr. Sweat talks about the many jungle lessons he learned, what it means to be a boonie rat, and his experiences during the Tet Offensive. Part I focuses on expereience in Vietnam while Part II revolves around the theme of comradeship and what it means to Mr. Sweat.
Major points in interview Part I:
- 0:55: Mr. Sweat introduces himself
- 2:44: Enlistment, basic training, beginning time in Vietnam
- 5:10: Number one lesson about living and suriving in the jungle
- 8:54: Communicating with family
- 9:30: Boonie rat definition
- 11:00 Security in Vietnam
- 13:37: Being involved with General Westmoreland's Strike Unit
- 16:45: Hill 875
- 18:58: Weeklong R&R
- 20:40: Explanation of Tet Offensive
- 26:45: Attitude of soldiers and how motivation in the army worked
- 28:20: Definitions of North Vietnamese regulars and Viet Cong
- 32:30: Cowboy pilots
- 34:50 Why Mr. Sweat's base camp moved
- 39:20: "Poop" meetings and war strategies
Major points in interview Part II:
- 0:10: Mr. Sweat does not follow orders and is unable to take his in country R&R
- 5:20: Comradeship in war
- 13:55: Mr. Sweat attempts to save a veteran at a shelter in NYC (incident occurred in 1992)
- 16:30: Mr. Sweat talks about his journey with PTSD
- 24:50: In 1968, Mr. Sweat was 19 and returned home from Vietnam. The difficulties he faced and his journey home.
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